A humane, pasture-based farm is building cheese aging space so it can become a more sustainable economic anchor in its rural community. Read more
This project was successfully funded on May 20, 2014.
About this project
We raise goats the hardest way: humanely, always on pasture, mirroring the lives they’d live in nature, but with better care and better protection from predators. No other commercial-scale goat dairy in North Carolina bears the Animal Welfare Approved certification, and very few do nationwide. We make beautiful cheeses which in three years have found a market from New York’s Hudson River Valley to New Orleans. In those three years, we’ve discovered some bottlenecks and business challenges. We have the most milk in summer, but wholesale cheese orders (2/3 of our business) decrease a lot in summer. We currently make delicate cheeses with a short shelf life, which can’t wait until the wholesale market bounces up again in the fall and holidays. We've realized that we need to build an addition onto our dairy to enable us to age long-lived hard cheeses, which will ripen slowly during the slower summer months. We can't produce such cheeses with the facilities we have now. That's why we've launched this Kickstarter project.
Building a space to age hard cheeses will accomplish 5 important goals:
1. In summer, we can make hard cheeses that will keep for months, not weeks, and be ready for sale as the wholesale markets gear up in fall.
2. With these aging spaces, we can make goat blue cheeses. There's a lot of commercial demand for these, but not many cheesemakers in the country make a great goat blue cheese. We've demonstrated that we can do it.
3. With these aging spaces, we can also expand to making aged, mixed-milk (goat and cow) cheeses, which offer endless creative potential. By adding cows, we will create work opportunities for more young farmers, to raise dairy cattle to Animal Welfare Approved standards on nearby land to supply milk to Prodigal Farm for cheesemaking.
4. Adding cow milk also boosts long-term employment for young cheesemakers on our farm. Currently, our work is very seasonal, since we don’t milk the goats or make cheese in January and February. Cows produce milk on a different schedule than the goats, so we’d always have milk to keep folks working in the dairy.
5. Adding additional cheese styles will enable us to cross-market to our existing restaurant and cheesemonger customers, and to highlight different cheeses throughout the year as new aged cheeses get attention with their seasonal release dates. This also means we'll have a diverse array of cheeses at the farmers' markets year-round -- no more winter slump!
We need to build an addition onto our existing dairy. The addition will need to meet FDA requirements for sanitation and will include specialized systems to keep the aging cheeses at their happy range of temperature, humidity and ventilation. It will also include a tank for brining the hard cheeses, a space for drying new cheeses before aging, and specialized wooden shelving systems made from wood milled on our farm.
We've already been successful in building our dairy and getting it licensed; we have the experience it takes to design and build the aging space. Prodigal co-owner Dave Krabbe worked for 25 years in the New York area building, renovating and restoring homes. Thanks to Dave's experience, the Prodigal Farm dairy is beautiful and highly functional to work in, for a price far below what we would have had to pay an outside contractor. Prodigal co-owner Kathryn Spann worked for 15 years as a lawyer, both in government and in private practice. She has enabled Prodigal Farm to navigate the complex regulatory world surrounding dairy licensing, and has even helped to make new law which supports other small dairy folks in North Carolina. This means that most of the funding you provide will go to buying materials, from which we and our farmhands can build the aging space.
We have experimented over the past two years in developing hard and blue cheese styles, which have been well received. We have also consulted with our cheesemonger contacts in various cities, to ensure that our planned cheeses will be distinct in the market, and offer something special to cheese lovers near and far.
Kathryn has attended workshops devoted to the art of "affinage" (cheese aging) and the principles of constructing well-functioning spaces for aging cheese. We've visited dozens of other dairies' aging facilities. We have also interviewed numerous cheesemakers with established hard cheese experience, to complement our current well-recognized experience in making soft-ripened french cheese styles, and have identified talent to join our team.
We do this for you: creating a place where you can find unique and delectable cheeses, and can connect your family to a world of loving animals in harmony with nature. We invite you to join us as we work to further this mission.
All of these efforts have gained us a lot of attention, both for our cheeses and for our roles in the community.You can learn more about us by having a look:
- Animal Welfare Approved Video
- Independent Weekly
- Daily Yonder Article
- Specialty Food Magazine
- Edible Charlotte article
- Tar Heel Traveler on WRAL
If we surpass our goal we will use additional funds to purchase milking cows which will form the foundation of our cow herd.This will make our farmhand Tom Harper jump for joy!
We've put a great deal of thought into rewards which are designed to create more bridges between our farm and the community, through taste, learning and time on the farm. If you think of another reward, let us know! Below, learn more about our rewards and the artisans who have teamed up with us to bring those rewards to you.
We're honored that some of the chefs to whom we provide cheese are lending their art to support our project. These include:
Chef Sean Fowler of Mandolin
Chef Jason Smith of 18 Seaboard
Chef Carrie Schleiffer of G2B Gastropub
Potter Evelyn Ward lives in nearby Hurdle Mills, North Carolina. She makes functional salt-fired pottery for the home. Evelyn earned a BFA from Cal State Fullerton and studied at Penland School of Crafts. Her work can be found in galleries around the Triangle including North Carolina Crafts Gallery and Cedar Creek Gallery. Each of her whimsical goat mugs is hand-made on a potter's wheel and salt fired, and has a beautiful feel in the hand. Each goat is drawn by hand so no two are exactly alike. The mugs are made from durable stoneware pottery and are safe for both dishwasher and microwave. They hold approximately 12 ounces. One of them is Dave's favorite mug for his daily coffee addiction! Learn more about Evelyn and her craft at evelynwardpottery.com.
The King's Daughters Inn Bed & Breakfast is owned by Colin and Deanna Crossman, who share our vision of community and sustainability, as well as our commitment to the highest standards of quality. Their gorgeous Four-Diamond inn, across from Duke's historic East Campus, embodies graciousness and glamour, and has been repeatedly recognized for their green building and operating practices.
Prodigal Farm T-Shirts
We really do have the best-looking farm T-shirts! They're 100% cotton, in a very silky fine knit. They come in "girlie" sizes S/M/L, and "unisex" sizes S/M/L/XL/XXL/XXXL, as well as kids' S/M/L. Kira, below, is modeling our logo front design; we also have awesome ones with the logo on the back and "Plays Well With Udders" on the front -- perfect for a humane-certified dairy, yes?
• to gifted and grounded videographer Kathryn Rende, for capturing our farm and community in their rough-hewn splendor
• to Alison Flinn and Lauren May of the Duke University Fuqua School of Business, for their tireless discipline in focusing on the bottom line, and for their patience when I was physically frail
You can now find our products at a growing array of locations near and far:
- The South Durham Farmers’ Market
- The Raleigh State Farmers’ Market
- The Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market 18 Seaboard • Raleigh, North Carolina
- Artisan Cheese Company • Sarasota, Florida
- Atlanta Wine School & Vino Venue • Atlanta, Georgia
- Battistella’s restaurant • Raleigh, North Carolina
- Bleu Olive Mediterranean Bistro • Durham, North Carolina
- The Bloomy Rind cheese shop • Nashville, Tennessee
- Bull City Burger & Brewery • Durham, North Carolina
- The Cheese Advocate distributor • Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia
- Cuban Liquor & Gourmet Shop • Shreveport, Louisiana
- Frog's Leap Public House • Waynesville, North Carolina
- G2B Gastro Pub • Durham, North Carolina
- Grazin' diner • Hudson, New York
- Green Button Farm CSA • Durham, North Carolina
- Herons • Cary, North Carolina
- Kitchen • Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Mandolin • Raleigh, North Carolina
- Mystery Brewing Public House • Hillsborough, North Carolina
- Orrman’s Cheese Shop • Charlotte, North Carolina
- Pompieri Pizza • Durham, North Carolina
- Rose's Meat Market & Sweet Shop • Durham, North Carolina
- Saxapahaw General Store • Saxapahaw, North Carolina
- The Spotted Trotter • Atlanta, Georgia
- A Southern Season • Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- St. James Cheese Company • New Orleans, Louisiana
- Star Provisions • Atlanta, Georgia
- Tazza Kitchen • Richmond, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina
- Weaver Street Market • Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, North Carolina
- The Wine Authorities • Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina
Risks and challenges
The main risks and challenges are those we already have faced successfully in building our dairy: the delays that weather injects into any construction timeline, and obtaining the NC Department of Agriculture's sign-off for the finished space. We have already obtained bids for those portions of the project that require outside work, and have discussed the regulatory aspects of the project with our inspectors at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, with whom we have a longstanding positive relationship. From the date footings are poured, construction can be completed within two months.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
It's easy! Just pledge twice the base pledge for that Reward #, and email email@example.com to let me know that you need a second (or third or fourth) seat at that dinner, and I will reduce the number of remaining seats accordingly on the kickstarter page.
Yes! Just add up the value of the rewards; pledge that amount; and email me to identify which rewards we should reserve for you. Thank you!
Yes! We'll give you at least a week advance notice, and it will be on a weekend -- we want folks to be able to come!
Pledge $15 or more
#1 [FLAVORS FROM THE FARM] -- A handcrafted mini-cookbook of 10 convenient and delicious ways to use Prodigal Farm goat cheeses and meat. Super-cute and you'll look like a genius in the kitchen.Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $25 or more
#2 [BEST FARM T-SHIRT EVER] -- Beautiful cobalt blue all-cotton, in unisex, girlie or kid's sizes. For pickup at one of our farmers' markets or on one of our open farm days. (If you'd like one shipped, see reward #3 below!)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $30 or more
#3 [BEST FARM T-SHIRT EVER] -- Same as #2, just shipped straight to you!Estimated delivery:
Pledge $35 or more
53 backers Limited (147 left of 200)
#4 [FIRST IN LINE] -- Taste what you helped build! Approximately 1/2 pound of the first batch of cheese to come out of our new aging cave, for pickup at one of our farmers' market locations in Raleigh, Durham or Chapel Hill. (If you'd like this shipped, please see reward #7 below.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $50 or more
13 backers Limited (137 left of 150)
#6 [GOAT SAMPLER] -- Approximately one pound of our pasture-raised ground goat meat together with a jar of our much loved Marinated Feta, also known as "cheese crack." You'll also receive a copy of "Flavors From the Farm" (reward #1), for culinary inspiration. For pickup at one of our farmers' market locations in Raleigh, Durham or Chapel Hill. (If you'd like this shipped, please see reward # 8 below.)Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $50 or more
35 backers Limited (16 left of 51)
#5 [ROOF PARTY] -- Celebrate the completion of framing and roofing for the new aging space, and cheer us on toward the finish line of building the addition! (Celebrations like these are a tradition for carpenters.) We'll provide Prodigal Farm cheeses and an array of light accompaniments and tasty beverages. The date will depend on when we hit that point in construction; we’ll send an email a week in advance. If you are unavailable that night, we'll provide a Prodigal Farm t-shirt and a selection of two of our cheeses.
Time: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $55 or more
18 backers Limited (31 left of 49)
#7 [FIRST IN LINE] -- Same as #4, just shipped so you don't have to drive!Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $65 or more
18 backers Limited (57 left of 75)
#8 [GOAT SAMPLER] -- Same as Reward #6, but shipped to your door!Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $75 or more
26 backers Limited (6 left of 32)
#9 [NOSE TO TAIL IN THE FIELD] -- Chef Carrie Schleiffer of G2B Restaurant crafts a three course nose to tail dinner featuring meats from Prodigal Farm, our friends at Green Button Farm, and produce from other sustainable farms in our area, paired with selections from local breweries. The evening will open with a tour of the farm and dairy, and you'll see the milking does coming up for evening milking. Next, you'll move to the porch of the dairy, for a tasting of charcuterie crafted by G2B, cheeses from Prodigal Farm, and local brewery selections. Guests will then be seated at a long table sited in the field, where you'll enjoy a three course meal as the sun goes down and you are surrounded by the music of the farm and the outdoors. Date: Monday, June 2, 2014; Time: 6:00 p.m. Availability: one day only, with rain date on Monday, June 16, 2014.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or more
25 backers All gone!
#11 [GOAT LOVE] -- Name one of the baby goats born this year (you'll need to pick a name beginning with "h"). Remember your little friend every day with a digital picture of your namesake, a beautiful stoneware mug crafted by artisan Evelyn Ward. You'll also receive a 4 oz. tub of Prodigal Farm chevre in the flavor of your choice. For pickup at one of our farmers' market locations in Raleigh, Durham or Chapel Hill, or at one of our open farm days.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or more
27 backers All gone!
#10 [18 FEAST IN THE FIELD] -- Chef Jason Smith has deep roots in the Piedmont, roots which are celebrated in the Southern flavors and ingredients featured at his signature restaurant, 18 Seaboard in Raleigh, and the newly opened Harvest 18 in Durham. Chef Smith believes deeply in local sourcing, so much so that you can see how much 18 Seaboard has spent each month in each category of locally produced food on the home page of its web site. This lavish dinner presents those flavors surrounded by the fields from which they spring. You’ll be welcomed on the porch of the dairy with hors d’oeuvres, paired with a refreshing beverage featuring the craft of local distilleries. Prodigal owners Kathryn and Dave will then escort you, drink in hand, with a tour of the farm and dairy, and you'll see the milking does coming up for evening milking. After that, you’ll be seated at a long table sited in the field setting a beautiful rustic stage. You'll enjoy a four-course meal, sourced from Prodigal Farm, Green Button Farm, and our friends at other sustainable area farms, with pairings featuring the amazing art of North Carolina wineries. (These are not your grandmother's sweet muscadines, folks -- North Carolina vineyards are producing some fabulous vintages!) As the sun goes down, you’ll be surrounded by the gentle sounds of the goats and the song of the night. Date: May 31, 2014; time: 6:00 p.m. Availability: one day only.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $125 or more
10 backers Limited (6 left of 16)
#12 [SOUTHERN SPEAKEASY ON THE FARM] -- Chef Sean Fowler, owner of the sublime Mandolin Restaurant in Raleigh, has a tale much like that of Prodigal co-owner Kathryn: returning to the crossroads of his youth to celebrate the seasonality and craft of food in North Carolina. Mandolin is an oasis of restrained elegance, creating an atmosphere of ethereal comfort in which to contemplate Chef Fowler’s palette of seasonal flavors. This exquisite evening will recreate that elegance amid the natural beauties of Prodigal Farm, and will highlight Mandolin’s reverence for meticulously crafted spirits. You’ll be welcomed on the porch of the dairy with hors d’oeuvres, paired with a drink crafted with local, seasonal ingredients. Prodigal owners Kathryn and Dave will then escort you, drink in hand, with a tour of the farm and dairy, and you'll see the milking does coming up for evening milking. After that, you’ll be seated at a long table sited in the field setting a beautiful rustic stage, with music from another era. You'll enjoy a four-course meal, sourced from Prodigal Farm, Green Button Farm, and our friends at other sustainable area farms, each course paired with a beverage highlighting farm-sourced ingredients and fine spirits. As the sun goes down, you’ll eat under a canopy of stars. Date: June 10, 2014; time: 6:00 p.m. Availability: one day only, with rain date on June 17.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $200 or more
7 backers Limited (93 left of 100)
#13 [CRAFTED WITH LOVE] -- Prodigal co-owner Dave Krabbe once built houses of the sort you find in the pages of Architectural Digest. He'll be building the aging space . . . and crafting these gorgeous cheese boards, using the wood milled on the farm from Prodigal's own oaks -- the same wood that will be used to build the shelves of our new aging space. Did you know that oak has natural antibacterial properties? We'll pair your cheese board with a selection of approximately 8 ounces each of three Prodigal cheeses, perfect for a party: an aged hard or blue cheese from our new aging space; a Loire Valley-style soft aged cheese; and your choice of one of our chevre flavors. Want it shipped? Get Reward # 16.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $250 or more
2 backers Limited (18 left of 20)
#14 [ONE DAY CHEESE SCHOOL - Oct. 12] -- This one-day workshop (at Prodigal’s dairy) is devoted to learning about cheese through taste, interaction, and discussion. Classes will explore:
• Principles of cheesemaking
• The cultural factors that shape various cheese styles
• Terroir in the context of cheese
• Identification of unique flavors, through exercises in sensory perception
• How to shop for cheese
• Selection and presentation for a cheese plate, and accompaniments
• Beverage pairings
The day includes a light lunch and an extensive cheese tasting (Prodigal cheeses as well as cow and sheep cheeses from other creameries), with beverage parings. A minimum of 12 cheeses will be presented during the tasting, from Prodigal Farm as well as cow and sheep cheeses from other domestic and foreign producers. After lunch, you'll be able to stretch your legs with a brief tour of our historic farm, and following the end of the workshop, you will have the opportunity to observe evening milking—always a lovely sight! Date: Sunday, October 12, 2014; time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Want another date? Check out Reward # 15.Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $250 or more
8 backers Limited (17 left of 25)
#16 [CRAFTED WITH LOVE FOR FARAWAY FRIENDS] -- Same as #13 above, with shipping included.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $250 or more
0 backers Limited (20 left of 20)
#15 [ONE DAY CHEESE SCHOOL - Oct. 25] -- Same as #14 above, but a different date Date: Saturday, October 25, 2014; time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or more
2 backers Limited (13 left of 15)
#18 [CHEESEMAKER FOR A DAY] -- Spend the entire day with us, making cheese in our creamery and tending cheese in our new aging space. We'll provide lunch, featuring scrumptious food from our farm and those of our farmer friends. At the end of the day, we'll sit down with you for one of our "sensory evaluation" tastings, discussing principles of aroma, flavor and texture evaluation. By mutually arranged appointment at our farm, one person at a time, any month from July through November 2014. If you wish to share this day with someone special, please add $150 to your donation.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or more
1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)
#17 [GOAT GOURMET] -- One whole goat, custom processed to your specifications (we're happy to consult), providing many delicious meals of pastured, Animal Welfare Approved goat meat from Prodigal Farm. You'll receive approximately 50 pounds of meat (fresh or frozen, as you wish), and a compendium of recipes to provide both easy and elegant meal inspirations. For pickup at one of our farmers' market locations in Raleigh, Durham or Chapel Hill or delivery to your home in the urban Triangle.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $1,000 or more
3 backers All gone!
#19 [DESTINATION CHEESE] -- Experience the glory of Prodigal Farm in fall. You'll receive a 2 night stay at the elegant and historic Kings Daughters Inn, a luxury four-diamond bed and breakfast in the heart of Durham, and a private tour of Prodigal Farm with the option to make cheese, do a tasting, etc. You'll take home one of the beautifully crafted cheese boards and the cheese selections described above in #13, together with two stellar selections from North Carolina wineries. By mutually arranged appointment, for 2 people. Travel expenses not included.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $1,000 or more
4 backers Limited (1 left of 5)
#20 [PRODIGAL PRIVATE DINNER] An intimate dinner in your home or other location of your selection, for you and up to 7 friends. We'll provide a 5-course dinner showcasing Prodigal cheeses and meats as well as the meats and seasonal produce of other area farms. We’ll work with you in planning the menu. Sample ideas for various courses include: cold cucumber-buttermilk-dill soup with pickled red onions and rye croutons; chicken liver (or goat liver) pate; Field of Creams cheese, balsamic onion jam and microgreens; goat shank (or pork shank) osso buco with goat cheese polenta and summer vegetable slaw; pan-seared North Carolina shrimp with tomato pie and succotash; passionfruit-lime fool on meringue tartlets; molasses-candied ginger goat milk ice cream with gingerbread. We’ll also provide beverage pairings, and an experienced server, to make the evening perfect. By mutually arranged appointment, at a location within the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. You provide a kitchen which we can use for staging, and dinnerware. We leave everything ship-shape and we leave you and your guests sated and delighted.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $2,500 or more
0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)
#21 [FETE DU FROMAGE] -- An intimate, elegant evening in your home or other location of your selection, for you and up to 20 friends, centering around artisanal cheese, beverage and other pairings. We'll provide a lavish selection of at least 12 goat, cow and sheep cheeses from Prodigal Farm and other farmstead, artisanal producers; artisanal breads, charcuterie, nuts, honey, chocolates, and condiments designed to showcase nuance and harmonies of flavor play. We'll also provide beverage selections that demonstrate harmonies and counterpoints of flavor with those cheeses. Prodigal co-owner Kathryn and her fellow cheesemaker will discuss cheesemaking, aroma and flavor perception, and answer questions from you and your guests. A command performance, an unforgettable evening. You provide the location, we provide the rest . . . together with a grand scale (triple-size, with handles that would enable display on your wall) custom-made cheese board crafted by Prodigal co-owner David Krabbe from oak from our farm, the same oak that will be used to craft the shelves in our new aging space. By mutually arranged appointment, at a location within the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area.Estimated delivery:
0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)
#22 [COMMUNITY STEWARD OF THE FARM] -- You believe that the expansion of Prodigal Farm's production facilities has an effect that spreads beyond the land of the farm, into the surrounding community, into the lives of young farmers, into the education of new goat owners, into the rural economy and in the preservation of farmland through the cultivation of a vibrant rural economy. You are willing to make a substantial contribution to further those goals. Our family, our farmhands and our community honor you for this vision and stewardship. Your name will appear above the entrance to our new aging space, and be ever-present as we ply our craft in the creamery. Let us thank you at your choice of our dinners described above. Join us for our private celebration of the completion of our new aging space, as soon as it's done! We'll provide you with a half pound every month of Prodigal Farm cheeses for a year, a custom-made cheese board, two Prodigal Farm t-shirts, two of Evelyn Ward's handcrafted goat mugs and a selection of other goat milk and/or meat goodies.Estimated delivery:
- (45 days)